Wednesday, June 23, 2021

CR Council Interview: Elation Studios

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CR Council Candidate Interview: Elation Studios

1. Since you are running for your first term, please introduce yourself to the community. Tell us a little about your background, prior experience, and personal vision for Elastos and Cyber Republic.

Hi Elastos community, we are Elation Studios co-founded by community members Troy Tohid (@ElationStudios_TT) and Fakhul Miah (@ElationStudios_Fox).

Troy Tohid: Executive Director at Morgan Stanley with over 15 years experience in the banking industry supporting an institutional and wealth management client base across fixed income, equities, and cleared derivatives asset classes. He’s a strong business leader with degrees in Finance and Marketing, primary skillsets in client service, and managing large globally disbursed teams of over 150 individuals. 

Fakhul Miah: Vice President at Morgan Stanley with over 13 years of banking experience supporting institutional and high net worth clients across equities, structured products, exotics, fixed income, and cleared derivates. He’s a strong technical lead with degrees in Economics and Data Analysis, primary skill sets in risk management (market & counterparty), and margin financing (prime brokerage) focusing on large asset managers and hedge funds. Managing global markets and a team of 50 individuals across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Our vision for Elastos is aligned with the founders and broader community, creating a truly decentralized smart web, where individuals have full ownership of their data & privacy with the ability to monetize personal data and digital assets. The Elastos Foundation (EF) focuses on completing core infrastructure work; we believe the Cyber Republic is critical in realizing Elastos’ full potential as the Web 3.0 industry leader through targeted promotion to achieve mass adoption across the investor, 3rd party developer, and end-user base (refer to q. 4 on how
Elation Studios would look to achieve this as an elected council member). 

2. Would you say the design of Suggestions and Proposals, and the CRC in general, has been effective? What could be improved?

Elation Studios would like to extend a most gracious thanks to the Council for all they achieved during their first term. Between re-evaluating the tokenomics and agreeing on a burn, a significant amount was achieved; however, it appears there were instances where quality proposals were not passed due to either a lack of communication between council members or votes not being cast or chained due to technical difficulties (the root cause at times was difficult to ascertain due to a lack of communication with the community).

Elation Studios is very much of the philosophy that there is always room for improvement. This holds true for organizations in their first year or that have been around for over a decade. The screw always needs tightening, after all. Once someone believes there is nothing left to learn or a process can’t be improved, one can bet that a competitor is right around the corner to prove that belief wrong.

For film fans out there, we will quote Al Pacino from the film, “Any Given Sunday.”

“We fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone around us to pieces for that inch.”

Competition in crypto is fierce. It is won or lost by inches, and we cannot allow our competitors to gain any more ground. It is to this end we feel there are opportunities to improve in the following areas:

  • Communication Framework
  • CR Proposal Funding Challenges
  • CR Revenue Generating Mechanisms
  • CRC Voting Rules

Communication Framework:

Each Council member has the right to recommend Proposals and vote on Proposals based on their own conclusions and beliefs.

Council members are elected by the community on their own respective platforms (unless they whale in). The information we have provided as part of our election bid should be used to understand our belief system when we submit and vote on Proposals. We believe the CR Council needs to better represent and keep informed the wider community, which is where our platform/commitments have been derived from. 

The CRC White paper articulates that Council members do not need to know or communicate with one another or have common goals. We do not believe that should be the case. While anonymity can be maintained, we feel it is important for CR members to have healthy discussions around Proposals and the direction of the Elastos roadmap (in conjunction with the EF and Community). This can be an easy one to solve for, either through more regular Council Meetings, AMA meetings on broader supported platforms, community engagement, and greater coordinated release of updates with associated marking, to name a few.

CR Proposal Funding Challenges:

While ELA continues to trade at a deep discount (versus ICO price) coupled with low trading volume, there are valid concerns around funding CR proposals with ELA. It often needs to be sold shortly approval on the open market to fund a Proposal’s execution. This creates downward pressure on the ELA price, which appears to have resulted in more expensive Proposals not passing and ring-fenced marketing budgets not being used.

We would suggest that the Elastos Foundation (EF), in a demonstration of confidence in the platform, the CRC, and perceived value of ELA, agree to an investment Proposal with the CRC whereby the two parties engage in an Over the Counter (OTC) swap of BTC for ELA.

The contract between both parties would include terms whereby the ELA amount would be locked up in a smart contract until either a defined period had expired and/or a specific ELA price point had been hit. As a result, the EF could not immediately go out and sell the ELA into the open market, driving the price down.

The Foundation’s current reserves of BTC versus operating expenditure is sufficiently favorable to support this. The ELA could be treated as a long-term investment, and with the Foundation’s demonstrated belief in the platform, they would hold and see the value of that investment go up.  

CR Revenue Generating Mechanisms:

We believe there are revenue-generating mechanisms that are yet to be explored or acted upon by the Council. These mechanisms may include DeFi solutions such as contributing to liquidity pools, participating in staking, mining activities, or entering various other structured deals. We are excited to see what knowledge and suggestions Mark Xing offers in this space, given his background. 

CRC Voting Reforms:

Elation Studios would like the CR to reconsider the current voting rules, which allows members to either vote “Yes,” “No,” “Abstain,” or “Undecided.” The later “Undecided” vote occurs when a Council member has failed to vote, or their vote was not chained due to technical errors.

Unfortunately, many instances where this has occurred were due to Council members failing to vote, and as a result, Proposals that would have benefited the ecosystem were not passed.

A key example includes the NFT
proposal put forward by DMA, which in hindsight was a loss to Elastos considering the significant uptick the NFT market has witnessed across the crypto space this past year.

We want to explore a change in the voting logic whereby any “undecided votes” would be excluded from the count. The remaining votes would be subject to the 2/3rds pass rule and require a minimum of 8 votes, e.g., if a proposal had 3 “undecided” votes, then the motion would pass so long as there were 6 “Yes” votes (2/3rds of 9).

In addition, under current voting rules, once a CR Council member introduces a Proposal, the Council has approximately seven calendar days to vote.

This can be problematic because it may not allow for sufficient due diligence and consideration if the Proposal contains ambiguity or lacks detail. Suppose a CR Council member ‘submits’ and ‘introduces’ a proposal. In that case, an additional challenge can arise, whereby the Council lacks prior knowledge of said Proposal and has insufficient time to discuss it within the Council and solicit feedback from the wider community to make an informed decision.

Having the option to “Abstain” does carry merit as it allows Council members who may agree with a Proposal in principle but did not have sufficient time or information to make an informed decision, the ability to make clear their position to the Council and community.

This should encourage the Proposals’ originator to submit a revised Proposal with the required detail. To alleviate such challenges with the current voting system, we would like to further explore the following suggestions with the EF, CR Council, and the broader community to put forward a CR Proposal:

  1. Introduce regular CR Council member meetings (fortnightly/monthly) that include specific agenda items for CR proposals
  2. Increase the voting cycle time from 7 calendar days (5,040 main chain blocks) to be aligned with the meeting cycle agreed in point 1  
  3. Require Proposals to be in the ‘submitted’ stage for a fixed period before being ‘introduced’ to allow sufficient time for scrutiny and community feedback
  4. Creation of an emergency voting mechanism if a Proposal needs to be pushed through in a shorter time-critical window. This would require a higher pass rate, e.g., 100%/min 10 ‘Yes’ Votes.
  5. Additional mechanisms for the wider community to have visibility to Proposals and provide feedback (consultation phase).

3. What contributions to the Elastos ecosystem as a whole have you made? What does your unique background lend to the CR Council?

Before forming Elation Studios, we, like many other community members, were passionate individuals that strove to help build the Elastos brand and promote its adoption across the investor, developer, and end-user base.

Our contributions to date were primarily as enthusiasts and early adopters of the ecosystem; more recently, we have started to leverage our professional networks to connect Elastos to the banking community:

  • We are initial diamond ICO investor who remained throughout the bear winter with a focus on accumulation 
  • We’ve leveraged networks to attract new believers to the Elastos ecosystem who have subsequently become material ELA investors
  • We’ve connected Elastos leadership to the banking industry 
  • We regularly engage in community groups and actively promote Elastos on social media platforms 
  • We are recently appointed admins of the Elastos UK community Telegram group
  • We are early adopters of the Filda platform and active liquidity providers
  • We’ve participated in the alpha testing of Profile, CreDa mining, Cordials’ website, and on the pre-order list for Elabox, which we look forward to using.

4. Why should the community vote for you? Please share your near-term goals for the CR.

Elation Studio believes that the Council should represent a diverse set of individuals with an equally diverse set of skills across the globe. We believe our greatest contributing skill set is our ability to run and manage large, globally disbursed organizations.

As an Executive Director and Vice President at Morgan Stanley, we collectively have 30 years of business experience. This experience over the years has honed in our core competencies of:

  • Effective Communication
  • Driving Performance, Productivity & Execution
  • Goals Setting and Performance Alignment
  • Exercising Sound Judgement and Analysis
  • Experience in participating and reviewing RFPs 
  • Front to back build-out of complex processes and teams
  • Expertise in risk management; Market, Counterparty, and Operational
  • Management and oversight of large budgets (USD millions)
  • Managing teams of over 150 people across locations including New York, Baltimore, London, Glasgow, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Singapore

Our near-term goals for the CR include:

  1. Develop a Marketing Strategy/Plan RFP and go to market for Bids
  2. Develop Educational Material on the Elastos Ecosystem


Marketing Strategy and Plan:

While Elastos leadership has broad stroke ideas for how and when they want to market, it is our belief, and that of the community’s, that this plan is not understood, all-encompassing, or coordinated across the Elastos Foundation (EF), Cyber Republic Council (CRC) and Community.

This contributes to a lack of product awareness outside of the core group resulting in scarce platform exposure, limited dApp development, and reduced investor confidence.

WITH YOUR VOTE, this is the gap Elation Studios would strive to bridge as an elected Council Member. We would consult these groups to simplify marketing material to broaden the Elastos user base and explore alternative funding opportunities to incentivize 3rd party dApp development. The focus would be on clearly defining the Elastos:

  • Value proposition and key brand messaging
  • Target consumer base (developer, end-user, and investor)
  • Marketing phases and timelines as aligned to release schedules
  • Material available to the community to actively leverage in outreach efforts

To contribute to achieving the above, Elation Studios would develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) and go out to market for agencies to bid on the opportunity to represent the Elastos Brand.

This RFP would ask for experienced marketing agencies to develop and price out a marketing mix, with varying levels of force, designed to efficiently incentivize the 3rd parties to build on the Elastos ecosystem while also increasing the Elastos user and investor base. This marketing mix would include influencer and industry engagement elements, digital and print advertising, and any other recommendation a professional marketing house might have.

Education of the Elastos Ecosystem:

New technologies are difficult to grasp for the uninitiated. Blockchain as a technology has been around for over a decade, and the masses still do not understand it. This holds true for even the most basic platforms. Now imagine the struggles of wrapping one’s head around the entirety of the Elastos ecosystem. You do not have to imagine it; you were once there. 

If only we had an ELA for every time a new member joined one of our social forums and was struggling to understand Elastos–or the number of times a claimed blockchain professional or influencer ran a Web3 comparative analysis and fell short of describing Elastos, or worse yet, left it off altogether.

Elastos’ supporting material needs to be readily available and easily digestible. Though work is being done on the redesign of the Elastos website and Developer Experience, we believe retaining the attention of the end-user and/or investor would continue to be a gap. It would be our commitment as an elected Council Member to assist with addressing this. We would look to achieve this through:

  • Publishing educational videos for the layman on what Elastos is, its governance structure, marketing strategies, and how to navigate/use the front-to-back ecosystem
  • Provide at least bi-weekly updates to the community on key inflight initiatives, interactions with the EF and CRC, and address current Community questions/concerns
  • Assist in Western Exchange Listings; attempted through CRC proposal for DAO registration in an allowable US state, e.g., Wyoming or Vermont

5. Who else would you endorse for being on the Council with you?

We would endorse all like-minded individuals with a desire and proven track record of success. This would first and foremost include a demonstrable history of active community and platform involvement.

We would specifically like to endorse the Orchard Trinity team, Donnie (Tuum Tech), and Ryan (Starfish Labs).

In addition, with the right level of commitment, we believe the following candidates could add a dimension that is currently missing from the Council; Brittany Kaiser, who is influential in the “Own Your Own Data’ space and a blockchain regulatory expert, and Mark Xing who would bring significant venture capital (VC) experience and associated resources.

6. Is there anything else you would like to add?

We believe the current pool of candidates this year is extraordinarily strong and wish everyone the best of luck. We would encourage all community members to vote and DYOR on each candidate; these CR Press releases are a great start.